Writer’s block is the enemy of creativity and efficiency for a blogger. Every writer fears it. You experience a big win as a writer. People raved about your last post you on Twitter, “liked” it on Facebook, linked to it. You were swimming in a sea of awesome.
For a short while you reveled in your prowess, much like a baseball hero celebrates knocking one out of the ballpark. Until you get up to bat again and wrestle with the fear of not being able to duplicate that win. There’s nothing worse than striking out after dominating the diamond.
If only you could read your audience’s mind, look over their shoulders to see what they want, what pains them, what piques their curiosity ….
What if I told you that you CAN do just that? Yep, sure can. With Google Insights for Search.
How You’ve Probably Heard of Using Google Insights
If you’ve been in Internet marketing for a little while, you’ve probably already heard about this power hitter of a tool, so I won’t cover the basics. If you’re not familiar with Google Insights, here are three videos Google put out to explain it. (Together they’re under five minutes.)
Traditionally marketers use Google Insights to compare relative search volumes of their target search terms. There are all kinds of ways marketers can find the best terms to optimize or bid on. It’s also a great competitive intelligence tool — and even a powerful predictor of market interest for different regions.
But this article is going to cater to bloggers. We’ll show you how you can use Google Insights to generate timely ideas for blog posts that will keep your blog relevant and competitive, regardless of your vertical.
Although an entire book could be written on all the different ways you can use the filters and comparison options to jumpstart your idea engine, we’re going to focus on the filters and cover some of the filter combinations you can take advantage of to find out what your audience is searching for. As our jumping-off point, we’ll tease out the search filters but include others as well in our examples.
You have four types of search filters to choose from: Web, Image, News, and Product. You can make your selection by clicking on the top filter in the top-right corner of the window.
Okay, let’s say you have a blog that caters to those who are knee-deep in social media. It’s crunch time, and you just can’t bring yourself to blog one more time about Facebook and security. (The Interwebz thanks you.)
How do you know what’s hot? Well, one approach would be to choose the following options:
For this illustration, we narrowed our search to the U.S. — for the past 30 days alone (since social topics are as ephemeral as unicorn sightings) — and the Social Networks and Online Communities category. The secret sauce of this recipe is to click the Search button without putting any search terms in the Search terms field.
Hint: The more popular your topic, the more filters you can apply to narrow your range of search results. For this example, you can apply more filters because it’s a popular topic. But if you’re in a niche industry, you might need to pull up to a higher altitude to get enough results to choose from — for example, make the search worldwide, include more history, and/or choose a broader category.
Here are the results:
Of particular interest to a blogger especially is the Rising searches column. Those percentages refer to the increase in searches for those terms in comparison to the previous identical time period. Since we chose 30 days as our history filter, it will compare search volumes to the previous month. If we chose Last 7 days or Last 12 months, those percent increases would be referencing the previous week or year, respectively.
Let’s pretend you’re an outdoor photographer, and you want to do a series for your blog on how to photograph various outdoor scenes. You have portfolio examples from all terrains, but you know you have a gravitational pull toward urban, beach, and mountain shots. Which series would be most popular?
For this beleaguered blogger, let’s see what the Image Search can tell us. As always, there are multiple ways you can go about attacking this research. You can limit your search to a particular locale (if, for example, you also sell prints from your site and you don’t ship internationally) or a tighter time period, if you want to go for immediate interest and aren’t as interested in persistent searches over time.
For this example, we chose the following options and compared the search terms beach, mountains, and city. For these general terms to be effective, we filtered the category to only include searches for Photo & Video Sharing (under the Photo & Video category).
(Click the image to enlarge)
Switching gears, let’s say you have a website that sells educational toys, with a large selection of science toys. (Special shout out to Bill Nye the Science Guy and Magic School Bus for ALMOST making science cool!) And, of course, you have a blog because you know that’s what the search engines your audience wants. ;)
You wonder to yourself if there’s anything hot going on that swings science, and you turn to Google Insights to find that out. (Good call!) Here’s what we searched for:
And the clear winner goes to ….
Of course, this illustration breaks down because the Perseid meteor shower has come and gone. So you’ll obviously have to make sure your opportunity didn’t pass you by. But you get the idea.
If you REALLY want to go all Chuck Norris on your competition, you could tie your high-interest topic to something from your online store. For this example, a savvy business owner could have created a landing page with all of the appropriate astronomy kits, telescopes, and star-gazing accoutrements. They could have dialed up the call to action with a special, discounted it on Groupon, or used a promo code propagated on coupon-sharing sites like RetailMeNot. If you do that, just don’t forget to optimize your landing page for the event and not just the toy name.
Let’s bring everyone home with a product search filter example, whudduyasay? Now you’re a blogger for a tech site that offers reviews, comparisons, and various informational posts on gadgets that have captured the minds and imaginations of your readers. If you’ve ever been deluged with press releases for the latest and greatest consumer electronics, you know it can be challenging to winnow through it all and separate the wheat from the chaff.
So you could do a search like this one:
Which would yield these results:
Imagine the delight of the manufacturer when you ask for a demo copy of their product because they’re killing it on Google Insights. You might actually be able to KEEP the product!
Let us know how you’ve used Google Insights or COULD use it to generate great blogging ideas. We’d love to engage with you here, banter on Twitter, or connect with you on Facebook. Or all of the above. :)